An item from last month that got lost in the inbox: Indefatigable evangelical alarmist Katharine Hayhoe tweets that “HALF of all young people report that concern over climate change is hurting their mental health.” So is she a bit sorry for having contributed to this psychological crisis? Heck no. She’s happy that they’re not happy, because now they can be stampeded into demanding action based on neurosis not rational analysis. Pardon us if we don’t high-five you over it.
To be clear, if man-made climate change is going to destroy everything we value from coastal cities to a fine French Merlot from Bordeaux, then we might need to take drastic action. As we did when it looked like the coronavirus would devastate the planet. But to take drastic action, be it social distancing or cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, we need to change hearts as well as minds. And as we have repeatedly pointed out, the “science” is not settled but what evidence there is suggests that things are not approaching apocalypse. Rather, CO2 is accumulating comparatively slowly, the sensitivity of temperature to accumulating CO2 appears to be lower than once feared, and the effects of warming are mostly benign or at worst readily manageable.
Knowing all those things, one might still argue for vigilant prudence. But one ought not to boast of turning youth into nervous wrecks by bombarding them with endless panicky exaggerations then, when they become hysterical and unhappy, herding them into a rush toward potentially disastrous policy implications. Indeed, one should apologize for it.